How to cook pulses to make your gut happy

Pulses – beans, chickpeas and lentils are excellent source of vitamins, minerals, fibre and protein. They are also a great substitute to meat. But the frustration comes from cooking and the gut discomfort after eating. Whilst it takes some time for digestive enzymes and gut bacteria to get used to pulses, especially if you have not eaten them a lot, people often experience gut uncomfort because pulses are not prepared properly. Let me share with you some cooking tips.

Step by step preparation

1. Soak your favourite pulses overnight

Wash them in cold water and add 3 cups of water per 1 cup of pulses. Soaking allows the pulses to release the chemicals that form gasses in our gut and block absorption of nutrients.

2. Get rid off soaking water next day

It is important to pour off the overnight water because it contains all the chemicals we are trying to avoid. Once you get rid of the soaking water, rinse the pulses in cold water again and you can cook them.

NOTE: As you can see, it’s better to cook pulses separately even when making a stew or soup. If we cook pulses in the same water, our stew or soup contains all the chemicals that some people find difficult to deal with. This is especially important for people who have stoma or sensitive digestion.


3. Cook pulses in plenty of water

Place pulses in to a pot and cover with water 1 inch above the level of pulses, or you can use the general rule of 3 cups of water per 1 cup of pulses.

4. Add 1/4 tsp of sodium bicarbonate

When cooking beans and chickpeas, sodium bicarbonate will shorten the time of cooking and make your beans and chickpeas soft. Just watch out how much you add, as if you add too much it will make your beans or chickpeas taste little bit funny. No need to add sodium bicarbonate to lentils as they cook pretty quickly.

5. Last few steps

  • cover the pot and bring to boil
  • stay around and when foam appears pour it out and top up the level of water
  • you might have to do this 1 or 2 times
  • cook on medium heat until soft
  • TIP: Pressure cooker is an excellent choice for cooking pulses quickly.

You might think its easier to buy pulses ready cooked as canned food. While there is nothing wrong with it, cooking your own will give you the extra benefit of having no preservatives or other unwanted substances in your food.